On Monday, Cal women’s basketball fell to #1 seeded Baylor 86-46 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Kristine Anigwe had a big game for Cal with 20 points and 11 rebounds, but with no one else scoring in double-digits, Cal simply didn’t produce the firepower needed to win this game. Nina Davis and Alexis Prince in contrast, both had 16 points for Baylor while Kristy Wallace chipped in 10 points. Baylor had a much better all-around team effort and as a result, they won going away.
In order to win this game, Cal needed to get to the line, shoot a good percentage, and control the glass. Cal did great at the line, shooting 9-11, but it was the other two areas where they fell way short. Cal shot an abysmal 23.1% from the field and got outrebounded 47-36. Given Cal’s inability to excel in these two areas, it’s no surprise Cal came up short.
Rather than elaborating more on the game, I would like to address the season as a whole. While Cal didn’t reach the heights that they wanted to reach this season, they did improve from last season. Cal didn’t make the NCAA Tournament or WNIT last season and this year, they not only made the NCAA Tournament, but they actually won their opening round game. Last season, Cal was unable to get over the adversity that they faced, but this year, they were able to overcome it and still find a way to make the NCAA Tournament.
What we need to remember about this Cal team is that they are really young. Mikayla Cowling and Penina Davidson are juniors, Kristine Anigwe and Asha Thomas are sophomores, and Mi’Cole Cayton and CJ West are just freshman. Cal will get a nice influx of talent coming in with McDonald’s All-American guard Kianna Smith and guard Alaysia Styles while also having guard Sara Anastasieska available after siting out a year due to transfer rules.
The future is bright for this Cal team and we should expect more of them going forward in the next couple of seasons. The biggest thing that we should expect is continued confidence in finishing games. We saw Cal lose several games that they could have won had they simply finished the game. The loss at home against Oregon is a prime example, but there were other examples as well. If Cal can continue to improve in this one area, they will be even more dangerous than they already are.
This team has all the pieces to be an elite team. They have the talent, they have a great coaching staff, and a fan base that comes out to support them. The pieces to go deep in March are in place. Cal just needs to continue to develop and grow. So long as they do, we should expect an even deeper run in the NCAA Tournament next season.